We often think of grief as losing a loved one, ripped from our lives through accident, disease or old age. However grief and loss can take many forms, it could be triggered by a painful diagnosis, a dream being shattered in front of our eyes, a loved one letting us down or perhaps loss of freedom. Loss and disappointment can take many shapes and sizes, but we are rarely taught how to grieve or encouraged to. We do need to learn to grieve in our own time. Below are some helpful things I have learnt about how to grieve and lament throughout my life.
- Learn to ride the wave
Tanya Marlow says “Greif is messier, it comes in bursts, it has its own timetable and doesn’t fit with what we want to do. We want to plough a line through grief but it’s more like surfing, you’ve just got to keep afloat”
- Tanya Marlow
2. The pain button
A model of explaining grief that has been used famously is the “Ball in the box” analogy.
Imagine life is a box, grief and loss is a ball that is floating around in the box, and to one side of the box is a button. When we go through a loss the ball of grief is all-consuming and takes up all of the room, as it floats around it bashes into the pain button very regularly. As time moves on, grief does not disappear but our box of life grows around it, the ball bashes into the pain button but less regularly. It is important to remember that e pain button, it still hurts just as much as it would have when the grief first happened.
3. Questions are good
When we experience pain, we can find ourselves asking a lot of questions.
“Was there more I could have done?” “Did I express my affection enough?”
“Why does this happen God?”
We can feel guilty when we question God’s goodness or plans for our lives, but I truly believe that God is big enough and loving enough to take all our questions, no matter how big they are. The prophet Isaiah beautifully describes Jesus as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (53.3, KJV) — to whom else would it make sense to go with our questions and grief?
Don’t be scared of asking these tough questions, even if there is no answer at the end.
If you are going through pain, loss or disappointment, I hope these words serve some comfort.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.